Call it opportunist counter programming amidst the summer of bats and fedora hats, or a lazy attempt to yank the success of well-worn baby comedies Look Who’s Talking and Three Men and a Baby into the modern multiplex a la Knocked Up. To do that would be premature injustice because although Baby Mama is riddled with cliché and is delivered without any surprises, it features not one, but two ridiculously funny female comediennes at the top of their game, and when was the last time you could say that?
Saturday Night Live alumni, 30 Rock creator, and writer of the superb Mean Girls, Tina Fey plays working girl Kate Holbrook. She is a woman who has forgone her maternal instincts to climb the career ladder, but now with the news that her biological clock has completely stopped ticking she must turn to an expensive surrogacy programme to fulfil her dream. Said dream didn’t include working class potty-mouth Angie, played by current SNL queen Amy Poehler, who Kate attempts to mould into the perfect birthing vessel despite the smoking, drinking and ulterior motive behind her participation.
Baby Mama’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of Fey and Poehler whose obvious off-screen friendship and past collaborations make for some quick-fire chemistry that more than compensates for the script shortcomings. Fey is adorably witty as she struggles with problems in a more believable way than Carrie & co. could have done, and Poehler is all sass and sarcasm as the “tart with a heart”. The comedy genre is certainly lacking in credible female icons and on this evidence there are no better qualified than this duo.
It also helps that they are surrounded by the likes of genre stalwart Steve Martin as a ludicrously brilliant hippie, here giving his best performance in recent memory, and Sigourney Weaver as the super-fertile adoption agency honcho who is either pregnant or holding a child in each scene. They sound like OTT creations but are grounded by the sweet natured narrative that permeates the film. Heck, even Punk’d talent-void Dax Sheppard emerges with credit in this surprisingly excellent comedy.